What Ashura Means To Me As A Shia
The Fight for Truth and Justice:
Ashura is the remembrance of an unwavering stance against injustice and oppression in the face of tyranny. Ashura is recognizing the truth. Ashura is the ability to distinguish between the armies of righteousness and the armies of ignorance. The latter is even more important in a world where atrocities are rampant be it the Kashmiri Muslims, Rohingya Muslims in Burma, the Coptic Christians in central Egypt, or the Shia genocide happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Yemen & Iraq.
Ashura signifies that no matter what the cost to self, the values of Truth must be upheld. In order to save Islam - a term usurped by murderers – one must bear all burdens in absolution. Imam Hussain’s sacrifice is supreme because in order to save the religion of Prophet Muhammad (s) he chose affliction for himself, his companions and his family. Today the term “saving Islam” has been made into something far removed from principles of Islam.
Imam Hussain said:
“If you do not believe in any religion and do not fear the hereafter, then at least be free from tyranny in your present life”.
The act of remaining free is vital in order for humanity to flourish. Karbala was a lesson in how to achieve freedom.
Spiritual & Emotional Value of Ashura:
As a shia, the night of Ashura is hard to describe. It is not just about loving Imam Hussain or Abbas (as). It is embracing their grief eagerly and entirely. It is waiting with the daughter of Ali to see if any individual has the courage to turn from killer to the party of the killed. It is watching Rubab try to sooth a barely conscious infant. It is explaining what the term orphan means. It is the foreshadowing of captivity that the ummah will forever be shackled with once they shackle Zainab. It is the sacrifice of the eternal lacerations in Zainul Abideen known as “Ash-sham ash-shaam-ash sham”. It is contentment with God’s will. It is tawakul on Allah. It is a love story like no other. It is the devotees being devoted. It is reaching inconceivable elevation in prostration. It is a desire to emulate with our life one act, worthy of a prostration beneath swords.
The tragedy of Karbala is as physical for us as the death of a loved one. This grief and anguish are written in the fabric of our subconscious. The remembrance of Hussain is something familiar, not distant. It is attempting to absorb the blood from the many, many wounds of Hussain. It is an eternal struggle to mitigate the pain inflicted upon the faces which resembled the Holy Prophet (s) and his daughter Fatimah Zahra (s.a).
Ashura is vowing to lead this life differently so that you are not associated with the oppressors. It is the determination to create a world in which Hussainiat is preferred to Yazeediat.
The desolation of Imam Hussain was such in Karbala that he had to ask for help. Desolation of my soul is such that my tears for Hussain, call out to Hussain.
It is answering the call of Imam Hussain on the day of Ashura “Is there anyone who will help me?”. He was not calling out to the army of Yazeed. It was a call to the living, for the entire humanity, to remember him when the “truth becomes sad and alone”.
The beliefs of mourning Hussain are universal. It is the act of empathizing with the aggrieved party and removing one’s self from the oppressors. This act of empathy is manifested in many ways. It is manifested through acts of weeping, lamenting and doing matam.
However, it is not physical exertion alone that makes us weary. It is the cognizance of the loss of our beloved. That gaping hole after you bury someone -the void you know will never be filled- that gnaws at you. It is tiredness of having to face a lifetime of the anguish which is inexplicable to all those that surround you because the grief is so personal.
Stand Against Tyranny:
If you do one thing for Imam Hussain this Muharram, let it be to speak out against the oppressors and tyrants, beginning with the one who oppressed Imam Hussain and his family.